Nine Health Food Trends: Which Make the Cut?

Bee pollen? Clay shots? We asked a registered dietitian which trendy health foods are actually worth trying.

Trendy health foods can be found everywhere. Grocery stores, drug stores, and even mall kiosks all seem to have the latest celebrity-touted health craze. But, is it actually healthy? We asked Lauren Mayer, a Boston-based registered dietitian, which of the au courant foods you should actually try and which to ignore.

1. Chia seeds: These tiny seeds are worth the nutrition hype, Mayer says. “[The seeds] have an impressive amount of fiber, protein, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids,” she says. “They also provide a hefty dose of potassium, calcium, and iron.”

2. Goji berries: While Mayer confirms that goji berries are very high in antioxidants and vitamins, she says they’re not a must-eat. “Goji berries can be expensive, so don’t worry if you can’t include them in your diet daily,” she says. “Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries are all high-antioxidant ‘super’ berries in their own right.”

3. Acai: Acai, a berry similar to goji berries typically consumed as a juice, is also similarly high in antioxidants and vitamins. But, Mayer warns, it’s high in calories and sugar, too. “It should be limited to four ounces or less per day,” she says. “You can certainly get the antioxidant benefits equal to acai by eating other berries, fruits, and vegetables, and by using spices or herbs in your cooking.”

4. Cacao: Mayer says cacao, the base for chocolate, is a great source of antioxidants and minerals that can be used in smoothies or baking. “Don’t expect it to be sweet like chocolate, though,” she warns. “It has quite a bitter taste.”

5. Spirulina: Spirulina is a type of algae, and Mayer says it has the taste to go along with it. Nonetheless, she says the common green juice additive “is a surprisingly excellent source of protein, B vitamins, eye health-promoting pigments, and immune-boosting plant chemicals.” One word of caution: Mayer says spirulina can be contaminated by heavy metals, so make sure you trust the store you buy it from.

6. Clay shots: Among the weirdest health food trends out there, clay shots are also among the most baseless, Mayer says. “There is zero scientific evidence to support eating clay for health reasons,” she says. “If you like clay, take up pottery.”

7. Tart cherry juice: Mayer says tart cherry juice contains melatonin, which aids sleep, and anti-inflammatory compounds that help with muscle recovery—hence why professional athletes like the Red Sox incorporate it into their diets regularly.

8. Kombucha: If you can get past its vinegar-y taste, Mayer says the fermented tea is a good addition to your shopping list. “Kombucha is an excellent source of probiotics—healthy bacteria that have been shown to significantly improve digestion, immunity, weight, mood, and skin tone,” she explains.

9. Bee pollen: Another weird-but-true health food trend, Mayer says bee pollen probably won’t hurt you—although it should be avoided by pregnant women, people on blood thinners, or those with pollen allergies, of course—but it may not help you, either. “The science behind the benefits of bee pollen is fuzzy at best,” she says, “but anecdotes and herbalists report that bee pollen is helpful in warding off chronic disease and improving vigor.”